Texas school installs huge on-campus golf driving range

High school athletic departments are always scrambling to improve their facilities to give their athletes an edge. Now a school in Texas may have given one of its programs the biggest edge possible: Magnolia (Texas) High has developed a golf practice range on its campus.

That's right, Magnolia High -- the current Class 4A girls golf runner-up -- has turned an enormous pasture behind the school's football field into the state's first high school golf practice facility. According to the Houston Chronicle, the "spacious" facility includes a monster 12,000-square-foot tee box, a chipping area some 50-100-yards long that includes bunkers and a chipping green and will even add a 3,500-square-foot putting green later this spring.

"This is something I have wanted to do for a long time," Magnolia golf coach Jim Bob Jackson told the Chronicle. "We finally started the process about nine or 10 months ago. We are excited about the opportunities it gives our high school kids, and now we can implement programs to our elementary and junior high players.

"A lot of kids might not be able to play basketball and football. But they can play golf. Golf is a life-long sport."

The donations needed for the new range were sizable, though the official numbers behind them haven't been released. The school also received some primo golf gear from donors to help maintain its new range, with a brand-new tractor mower and ball retriever arriving on campus for the range's unveiling, not to mention a new irrigation system for the upkeep of the facility.

Whether or not Jackson is the person in charge of driving that ball retriever remains to be seen, but there's little question that he would rather have to shag balls across a driving range filled with his players than risk losing some who head home instead of arriving at one of the school's three traditional practice courses after school. With the ability to walk out of class and stroll over to the driving range, Magnolia players will be in the unique position of having very few excuses to not hit some balls after school.

"This is going to be a great place to learn for our younger players and hone their skills for our older players," Jackson said. "The whole key is once you get your program to a certain level, you want to keep it at that level."

Magnolia Booster Club president Andy Sexton, who has had three daughters come through the Magnolia school district, is very proud of the new range.

"I think this is going to be better for the team," Sexton told the Chronicle. "When you let kids drive to the course, all of them don't show up. This way, they just have to walk out to the range. And they can go out there in the summer and practice all day long.

"With this range, whether they have the money or not, they can come out and practice. They don't have to join a golf club to be able to play [high school] golf."

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